Middle East

Obama Envoy in Israel

On Wednesday, George J. Mitchell arrived in Israel to speak to leaders about how the Obama administration can broker talks between Israel and Palestine, even as their divisions became more evident. The new U.S. envoy met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert just hours after Israeli warplanes fired on the Gaza Strip, retribution after a bombing on Tuesday breached the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and killed an Israeli soldier. Mitchell said the United States would "sustain an active commitment for reaching the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security." While reinstituting last week's cease-fire is of "critical importance," Mitchell said that an end to arms smuggling and the lifting of the blockade would be necessary to form a longer truce. The front-runner to be Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is uninterested in resolving issues that stand in the way of Palestinian statehood, reports the Los Angeles Times. The election is set for Feb. 10.